Wednesday, September 9, 2009

You Mean I Don't Have to Sit Like the Buddha?

I suffer from a chronic back condition that does not agree well with extended periods on the cushion. Some days are better than others. This morning not so good. All I could think of was the pain in my right lower back. Breathing into it, being with it, accepting it, getting absorbed into the surrounding noises, . . . noting the not liking, and the judging the not liking, going back to the breath, wishing for the bell to ring, acknowledging . . . The bell did ring.

I asked my teacher, what I am to do with the pain? Gil suggested I not be so hard on myself, and give my body a break instead. "Adopt whatever position works for your back. You don't want to make things worse. It's ok to change position in the middle of a sitting as long as you stay mindful. Some very good meditators need to move every 20'." Made sense.

For the second sitting, I decided to go for a chair. Much better. The pain was still there, a remnant from my earlier stint on the cushion, but not as pervasive. I even experienced long stretches without feeling or thinking about it. And I did follow Gil's advice, and listened to my body, and moved accordingly with each signal from my back. When I opened my eyes, I noticed a twinge of envy, as I saw other people in the room, sitting in perfect Buddha position. Then remembered Gil's talk. Standing, sitting, lying down, it's all good.

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